A Publication of WTVP

As Henry Kissinger once said, “The task of a leader is to get people from where they are to where they have not been.” Identifying and developing leaders in the Peoria community is an essential part of “excelerating for the future,” the five-year plan for growth and prosperity launched earlier this year by the Heartland Partnership. As a division of the Heartland Partnership, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce offers an excellent opportunity to the current and future leaders of the area.

The PACC Community Leadership School (CLS) was created in 1975 with the mission of strengthening the Peoria area by developing future leaders who are educated on the issues and challenges facing our community. As a proud graduate of the Class of 2008 and current member of the CLS Steering Committee, I am excited to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2009 class.

Each year, CLS gives about 40 students the opportunity to learn more about their community through weekly gatherings with speakers on different topics. A range of prestigious speakers, including Mayor Jim Ardis, Doug Oberhelman, Tim Krueger, Carl Cannon, Rebekah Bourland, Sheriff Mike McCoy and Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard, among others, will meet with the 2009 class. Time is allotted for Q&A with each speaker.

Field trips are another component of the school. From tours of local nonprofits to a police ride-along, these outings cultivate a greater awareness of the organizations and businesses which operate in our community. One of the most interesting field trips involves a trek to Springfield. Last year’s class met with local political leaders Aaron Schock, Dave Koehler, Dale Risinger, David Leitch and Keith Sommer. Another highlight was meeting with Bernie Shoenberg, a well-known political columnist from the Springfield State Journal-Register, who gave his no-holds-barred opinion of state politics and its impact on our community.

In addition to class and field trips, students are divided into project teams. Each team is assigned a current issue on which they will attain background information, assess and analyze, and then propose a solution or recommendation to address the issue. Students also have an opportunity to grow professionally through networking with others in the class, as well as with the leaders who speak each week.

The 2009 CLS orientation and cocktail reception will be held on Wednesday, January 14th. Beginning January 16th, the class will meet each Friday morning from 7 to 9am at various locations throughout the community. The final class will take place on Friday, April 3rd, when students will make presentations with their project teams. The presentations will teach the class about the issues students have analyzed and the solutions they have recommended to their respective organizations. Later that evening, a graduation dinner will be held at the Country Club of Peoria.

I began my CLS journey as a student in the Class of 2008 with no idea what to expect from the school. At orientation, I met the members of my project team, and we learned about the issue assigned to us. Two days later, we met for our first class. Although I am not typically at my best at 7am, I was excited to see the people I had met just two nights earlier and have our first class, followed by a group meeting to discuss our project.

After a few weeks, 7am didn’t seem that bad, and I began to get to know others in the class outside of my project team. I remember how exciting it was to meet those who were already doing so much to make an impact on Peoria, many of whom I stay in touch with today as volunteers, business partners and friends. By the final week of class, the project teams made their final presentations, and everyone had a chance to see what the others had been working on since the beginning of class. Overall, CLS has been one of the best experiences I have had as a member of the Peoria community.

I strongly recommend that any individual or employer with an interest in growing themselves or their employees personally and professionally apply for the CLS Class of 2009. Proof of this professional growth can be found in the pages of this magazine, as numerous CLS graduates are also recipients of the 40 Leaders Under Forty award.

If you would like more information, please contact a member of the CLS Steering Committee or Terry Best at (309) 495-5926 or [email protected]. On behalf of the CLS Steering Committee, I hope to see in you in January! iBi